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President denies 'no transparency' accusation over China pact
Central News Agency
2014-03-26 06:20 PM
Taipei, March 26 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou rebutted Wednesday widespread accusations that a cross-Taiwan Strait service trade pact lacked transparency before it was inked, insisting that it had undergone full scrutiny both before and after it was sent to the Legislature for review.

"Apart from 20 public hearings and 111 meetings held by the government to help the public gain an understanding of the agreement," Ma said, "144 briefings were also held to allow over 7,900 people to discuss and exchange views about it." "This is the first time in the Legislative Yuan's history that 20 public hearings have been held to clarify the public's misgivings about a bill, so how can they accuse it of lacking transparency following such a strict review process, especially as the lawmakers are now prepared to conduct an item-by-item review?" Ma asked after a keynote speech by Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch about the issue during a weekly meeting of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), which the presidentalso chairs. Taiwan and China signed the trade-in-services pact last June, with the two sides agreeing to open each other's service sectors to the other side. But clashes in the Legislative Yuan erupted after KMT lawmakers forced it through a committee review for a legislative floor vote March 17, leading to an ongoing occupation of the Legislature's main chamber by the pact's opponents, mostly college students.

??The protesting students have demanded a face-to-face discussion of the pact with the president in public and that a law be drawn up to monitor the signing of future agreements with China ahead of the review of the trade service pact in the Legislative Yuan.

In an effort to break the impasse in the Legislative Yuan, Ma agreed late the previous day to meet student representatives who, however, declined to meet him, claiming that Ma had not shown "enough goodwill." (By Lee Shu-hua and Flor Wang)

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